Detroit Pistons-Jazz: The Good, Bad and Ugly

Feb 2, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Detroit Pistons center Mason Plumlee (24) draws a foul from Utah Jazz center Derrick Favors (15). Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 2, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Detroit Pistons center Mason Plumlee (24) draws a foul from Utah Jazz center Derrick Favors (15). Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Pistons pushed , what has been the hottest team in the NBA, the Utah Jazz, to the wall, before falling, 117-105.

In their previous game, the Detroit Pistons had been non-competitive against the Golden State Warriors. Basically, it was the first time all season that had occurred.

The Warriors are a .500 team. If the Pistons could not play with them, how would they handle the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night. For the past couple of weeks, the Jazz have looked like the best team in the NBA.

Las Vegas made its feelings clear. After opening as a nine-point underdog, the Pistons eventually were at +12.5. The people with money expected a blowout.

But the “We never get blown out’ Pistons were back. Yes, they were down by 28 points in the first half, and still behind by 27 in the third period, but Detroit rallied and cut the deficit to four points with two minutes remaining.

Utah’s Bojan Bogdanoavic had to hit two three-pointers at the end to stave off the Pistons.

Derrick Rose did not play due to an upset stomach, not because he is about to be traded, according to coach Dwane Casey. That left an opening for the now famous Rodney McGruder to get some real playing time.

Related Story. Meet Detroit Pistons newest Bad Boy: Rodney McGruder. light

Here is the Good, the Bad and the Ugly from the Pistons-Jazz game:

Detroit Pistons: The Good

Mason Plumlee: Rudy Gobert is being paid $205 million by the Utah Jazz over five years. Plumlee is scheduled to make $25 million over three, and some people think he is overpaid at that figure.

Yet, for the second time this season, Plumlee outplayed Gobert. The 31-year-old veteran outscored him (17 to 9) and outrebounded the Frenchman (14 to 7)  by solid margins.

In the first half, Plumlee was about the only thing keeping Detroit reasonably competitive.

Josh Jackson: One of the few players to not play horrendously against Golden State, Josh Jackson followed up with a big outing against one of the best defensive squads in the NBA.

Jackson, coming off the bench, had 22 points, eight rebounds, two assists, and two blocks. Detroit was a +8 when he was on the floor. A big factor in the comeback.

Jerami Grant: Utah was not able to shut down Grant, as he flashed his All-Star scoring ability with 27 points, on just 18 shots. He also had three blocks, four rebounds and four assists.

He and Plumlee were the only starters who really contributed against a very tough Jazz team. After a low-scoring game against Golden State, Grant came back strong.

Detroit Pistons: The Bad

Blake Griffin: He was noticeably upset at the end of the first half.

The Pistons trailed, 69-46, at that point. We don’t know if he was upset at the way Detroit played (which he had good reason to) or his own performance (which he also had reason to).

Griffin finally went into the locker room, but appeared to be trying to rip his jersey off. Whatever happened, he did come back for the second half (wearing a full uniform).

It was another ho-hum performance from him. He took a lot of three-pointers (six), making just one. He also had 11 points and three turnovers.

Pistons first-halves: At halftime, Detroit was shooting 31.6% from the field, that is not going to work. For the second game in a row, the Pistons buried themselves with poor play to start the game.

If not for receiving a boost from the bench: Jackson, Isaiah Stewart, Saddiq Bey, among others, it would have been even worse for Detroit than down 23 at half.

Yes, Detroit was able to rally to make it a game. But a team with few creators can not keep giving the other team 25-point leads.

Detroit Pistons: The Ugly

Wayne Ellington: Let us hope this is just a slump, but Ellington has gone from the best three-point shooter in the NBA to a terrible one.

In the past two games, Ellington is 0-for-7 on threes and 1-for-13 overall from the field.  Are defenses now playing him tighter, since he has become such a scoring threat?

Ellington nailing three-pointers early, had sparked the team in wins over the 76ers and Lakers. They really need him to go back to being the can’t-miss shooter he had been.

Pistons past 24 hours: The team was in the locker room on Monday, just a few minutes from taking the court to play the Denver Nuggets, when an inconclusive COVID-19 test on a player forced the game to be canceled.

All the Pistons players had to sit (separately) in an empty Ball Arena  to get re-tested under the NBA contact tracing policy. It turned out no one tested positive, and off to Utah they finally went.

Better safe than sorry,  but to be told a game if off, just minutes away, and then have to hang around, was certainly not a fun experience.

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Detroit actually has a couple of days to rest and get some practices in. They do not play again until Friday, when they face a Phoenix Suns team they beat at home.